Preparing for a games industry interview and want to stay ahead of the pack? LucasArts production supervisor Jason Smith is here with essential advice for those about to meet a potential employer
When at the interview (such as above), LucasArts’ Jason Smith says it is important to show potential employers your passion for the job and share with them your life experiences
THIS MAY HAVE been one my most enjoyable years in the industry, largely due to having had the opportunity to speak at nine different schools specialising in preparing graduates for various artistic jobs in games. This is hugely important to me. I feel
energised and inspired after spending time with the future of the industry and I wish I had the opportunity of some honest insight before starting on my own career. This article summarises my key pointers for pre-interviewpreparation. I hope it’s useful.
Keep your showreel focused Choose only your best work, keep traditional portfolios to less than 16 pieces and showreels to less than three minutes. If you are completing a course which has provided you with a varied reel, consider each job a completely separate application (this will take longer, but you will be competing with other applicants who have come from specialised courses, often with deeper portfolios to offer). Your best opportunity is to customise your
reel and resumé to the specific discipline and role you’re applying for – and ensure your passion for this field is apparent to employers. On top of this, you have the
36 | MAY 2012
Generic is bad; be specific, include
the firm you are applying to in your goals and show you’ve done your homework.
Jason Smith, LucasArts
option to present your knowledge and skills in the related surrounding areas as a bonus, but keep this brief.
Traditional art skills are important for any art role Whatever you may have heard; all studios use pencils and pens for visual communication many, many times a day. If you want to model or rig characters, understanding anatomy either through drawing or sculpture is a huge positive for anyone reviewing your portfolio. If your training doesn’t include life drawing find some local classes. If you are interested in environment modelling, consider supporting your portfolio with your own
inspirational photographic lighting studies (these areas are interwoven very deeply in games development). Traditional skills are the foundation of what we do; draw on as much reference as possible before starting to work in CG and be confident in presenting your background research and goals.
Don’t be afraid to be honest One of the most noticeable portfolios I’ve seen recently included a short dissection under each visual where on a number of pieces the author was critiquing their own work. It’s a great approach but needs to be balanced. Be careful not to come across negatively – it’s important to make the reviewer feel good about what they’re seeing and not to come across like you’re making excuses. Talk about what you’ve learned, and if need be, where specifically it could be improved, and how you would approach this next time you work on something similar. Presented correctly this can be very powerful, it shows you have a critical eye, can assess your own work and are striving to improve.
Presentation is everything There is a good chance your showreel represents years of effort and has a goal to